Love In the Air

It’s almost a week since I returned from a most amazing trip. I went to Calgary for a few days to see my daughters – my oldest one just graduated from ACAD, one of Canada’s finest art schools, and so there was her beautiful convocation. The trip was full of love and emotions, shared with both my young-lady girls.

So much happened in just a few days, but most of that is too private to share on a blog post, though I’m sure to write a few more, without all the daddy details, but with some! :-)

This trip changed me in ways I can’t really explain. It’s funny how I sensed that coming a few days before, including a change in direction with my art. For the past six months I’ve been thinking about that, how to have my art seen and available beyond the virtual world.

Aside from the time with my daughters, I also had time to explore Calgary’s art scene, or at least a few galleries. I met a few wonderful people in the process and I learned a lot, with all of the past half year’s ideas suddenly crystallizing. By the time I left Calgary on Sunday morning I had a much clearer picture of what I must do (want to do) over the next little while, and it’s all quite exhilarating.

So was my drive home, all 14 hours of it. I wasn’t looking forward to it, sad to be leaving my grown children. But then as the drive began I started thinking of them, writing letters to them in my head. Before I knew it the trip home was half over. It was such a nice journey, though I had hardly noticed the big sky and rolling hills around me.

Cloudy Spells

That soon changed on the second half of the drive, and I have to blame that on the clouds . . . the floating popcorn just beyond my reach, teasing me . . . as if they knew how much I love my popcorn!

Quicker than I could spell “cumulous” correctly, it was time for one of those glorious prairie sunsets. Actually, that day (Sunday) was the first time I’d seen the sun since I left home the previous Wednesday. Because I was travelling east the sunset was unfolding behind me, though I could watch it by turning my head 90+ degrees to the left. This can make driving a little dangerous, especially at 120 km/ hour, so I had no other choice to pull over for a while, for a proper view.

As soon as I got out of the car, my mind drifted back to when I was five years old. While my dad drove along a very flat stretch of highway, I was fixated on the view, with a lake in the horizon . . . one that looked as big as an ocean. The body of water was in the shape of an inverted triangle, kind of like filling the bottom half of a martini glass. Even as a child it really struck me, how the water seemed to blend in with the sky. That’s when I playfully squinted my eyes to verify the truth of it.

But this sunset was even more than that. You see, instead of popcorn clouds, there was this amazing, long narrow strip of cloud in the horizon, much like a blanket. Above this strip was the orange light from the setting sun, and below it was a sea of pale blue sky. In the foreground the gently rolling hills gave the perception that I was on higher ground . . . kind of surreal. It felt like was up on a small island mountain, looking down the hills instead of up, and with the view of a blue cove of gentle water, and with another island far in the horizon. That island was actually the blanket-cloud. It was very a very dark grey given its position, and it was like a silhouette of land a few miles away, across from the cove.

If you have followed me for any length of time, by now you will understand how I like to think of nature as an ongoing work of art, though it’s all too effortless to think of it as work. So often I’ve stopped to watch the process, the light and sky changing and picture unfolding. This was certainly one of those occasions.

A few days later I painted this picture below, “Prairie Sunset”, based on that part of my trip. However, it really doesn’t exactly show the island scene I just mentioned. That wasn’t the intent. It does seem to depict the warmth of the emotion . . . not just of the sunset, but of the entire trip. And yes, it does seem to have so much to do with love, including some precious hugs for some very precious daughters.

 

Art by Lawrence Grodecki

Prairie Sunset

What Is Art?

What is art? Whether you are new to collecting art or a twenty-year veteran, you’ve probably thought of this question a number of times, read and researched it, listened to several experts, and so on.

It seems to be one those “lovely” words that defies a singular definition, and there’s a certain beauty in the truth of that, poetic and otherwise.

For me art is a way for ideas to breathe . . . to come to life. It often happens in unexpected ways, and at times the finest breath seem to flow effortlessly through the artist.

For me these ideas are sometimes humorous, often mysterious, almost always sensual, and usually kind and playful. That’s quite a group of five, and a handful to say the least! When you think about it, they all seem to have something to do with love, individually and blended together . . . endlessly.

I hope you keep that in mind as you view any of my art, and as you consider adding some of it to your collection . . . here are my limited edition creations. For me it’s impossible to put a “proper” price on any of it, though I think you will find that all of it so easily worth it.

Something Fishy About Noses

Occasionally an admirer will mention that I don’t put faces in my art. That’s almost always true, and I used to worry about that a little.

Some of those worries concerned the sensuality that fans often sense in my creations, perhaps always? When you think about it, several of us somehow get offended by that combination . . . all those heavenly curves but with no head, or a head with no facial details. There are several art teachers that would insist that what I’m doing is a no-no. I seem to have a nose for no-no’s!

I wonder whether some people see my art as disrespectful . . . the absence of the character that can be shown in a subject’s face, and so the art becomes purely erotic? Or purely sensual? This may sound a little like a bit of a hangover from some Victorian era, and I can fully empathize with that. After all, I’m quite a fan of the show “Downton Abbey”, largely because of the old-fashioned way in which the characters act. While the sexual aspect is certainly there, romance and personality is always upper-most . . . it’s more about the conscience mind than about our more primal urges and reactions.

I also wonder whether some people think that because of the lack of those faces, perhaps the artist doesn’t have the skills to draw with such detail? That’s a valid question, and again I think it relates to a lot of our traditions. I noticed this a few years ago, while breezing through a book of paintings by Rembrandt. The paintings demonstrate amazing anatomical correctness and proper portraiture, and oddly, almost always about the men. Of course the skills are there, but I’m not really struck by the characters.

The thing is, I simply have no urge to draw in this level of detail. If I did I would do so by hand on paper. When it comes to faces, for me that is much easier done on paper than on-screen, though I’m fully aware of how for some the opposite can be true and here’s an amazing example of that.

More importantly though, I strive the expression of the ideal in my art. By that I mean the expression of something beyond the individual. When you think about it, when you are really drawn to a portrait, especially the likeness of a stranger, it is that ideal which lures you, something beyond the individual . . . something powerful and emotional.

The truth is, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those who draw in details, very realistically so, and especially when they also capture something beyond the details. In fact I have so much respect for them that I choose not to be among them. By that I mean that there are so many artists out there like that, there is simply no need for me to add to their ranks.

Snippets From The Past

When I learned to draw it was in a very traditional way . . . the basics are wonderfully simple really, and it’s amazing how quickly a person can learn. So there were fruit baskets, windows and curtains, nude models, and then there was this mounted bird. That’s when I learned not only to draw, but also that I could draw! My teacher gave me the ultimate compliment. When she saw my work, she was speechless for a moment, almost catching her breath. She gave me this warm smile and told me about a wildlife artist named Robert Bateman. When I discovered who he is by looking in another at book, I was truly flattered. However, even back then, over 30 years ago now, I remember thinking that there is simply no need for me to draw like that . . . he’s already doing it.

Perhaps it is also because of my first degree, one in psychology, where I learned about all the biases that can go along with facial impressions. While the expressions can be wonderful, our current cultural norms of beauty seem to have distorted much of that . . . thank you Madison Avenue. It’s sad really, but what can a person do? What can I do? I really don’t know . . . I just keep doing what I do!

Finally, the number one reason for me to leave out the faces is this . . . by doing so, I don’t need to worry about someone cutting out the good parts. Let’s just call it a Polish thing . . . if you watch this video you will “catch my drift”! ha ha

The Story Tellers

Some of my fondest memories are about simply telling stories. I can’t remember reading my kids a book at bedtime – that was a long time ago –  but there are several precious times where tales were told, and not just at bedtime.

There were campfire stories, for sure. However, the fondest tale happened on a day at the beach. hottest day of the year. My girls were around the ages of 10 and 12. There was just the three of us and it was the hottest day of the year. I was so worried about lasting in the scorching heat, not being able to keep up with the little ones. However, it was they who suggested finding some shade, and they led the way with their tiny folding chairs to a spot close by, under some poplar trees and very close to the water pump. As soon as they had the chairs open, they each took their plastic pail, filled it with ice cold water, parked that in front of their chairs, sat down and plunked those twenty toes and four heels into the water. You could hear the cool comfort immediately, as they looked at me sitting across from them and said, “Dad, tell us a story.” Such leaders, even back then.

So I just started the telling of it, an adventure of course, one from my youth in Dauphin, when I was about their age. You see, my friends and I found a buried treasure chest in the river, but we had no way of opening it. That’s how it started . . . the thrill of the discovery and then the frustration . . . and to this day it has never ended. I doubt that it ever will.

Other Telling Traditions – The Elder Ones

Several years later, while writing my novel, I did a little research on gypsies. There was this fascinating account about the Romanian gypsies, of their various story telling traditions. By memory, it was the men who told shorter, funnier tales. The women told more epic ones, full of drama, tragedy, adventure and so on. It was nothing to spend two hours in an evening in the telling and the listening, much like we now watch a movie I suppose.

I’ve done other research that talked of a similar tradition, and that was in the mid-east . . . ancient Iran or Iraq, or maybe both? I’m sure you can find all kinds of material online if you want to know more on the subject. Apparently they used the inside of their large tents to put these stories into pictures. This was thousands of years ago, and I believe the material was vellum, not canvas.

In our busy lives we so easily forget how short a time the printing press has been around, but story telling seems to be almost as old as language, with or without the written word. It must have been quite something, both the telling of it and the art of it, on a cold desert night, or during a sand storm.

I’m sure that over time the stories changed – never quite the same way twice – and legends emerged. No doubt having the pictures handy would help the evolutionary process; as images are interpreted differently, new twists come to mind, and the telling becomes as intriguing as the listening.

Modern Story Telling – A Sponsored Tradition

I sometimes wonder if there is a lot more to the true history of those ancient times, and whether it was recorded in those tents . . . among all that art. I wonder about that when I think back to that first attack on Iraq, that night bombing that we got to watch live on TV . . . part of “Operation Desert Storm”. I remember watching CNN that January in 1991, surprised to hear that the first targets were museums . . . how odd. A few weeks ago I heard a little clip about some terrorists damaging museums, somewhere in the same region. In the context of what happened back in 1991, it seemed so hypocritical to hear the TV person trying to describe this act as something barbaric.

Something else that seems so strange is that despite all our talk of freedom of speech – the importance of freedom of the press – the broadcast rights of that first bombing of Baghdad was given exclusively to CNN – modern day story telling? I’ll just leave it at that. Besides, I don’t do political blogging. I don’t do religion either, but I do wonder why there is no original art to go with all those ancient words . . . so very, very odd.

But enough of all that. Who needs more controversy right?

In my art I do like to pay homage to the finer aspects of humanity, and this new painting follows that personal tradition. It is simply called, “The Story Tellers”. I hope it says something about each of us, at least once in awhile, and that your stories are good ones, and the telling of them precious, at times.

It’s time to go now . . . my mind keeps drifting back to those tiny toes in the little buckets . . . where was I now?

Painting - The Story Tellers

The Story Tellers – Fine Art Paper (Edition of 75 Prints)

Image size: 18″ h x 24″ w (46 x 61 cm). Price: $295 USD + $30 shipping.

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The Story Tellers – Canvas (Edition of 30 Prints)

Image size: 24″ h x 32″ w (61 x 81 cm). Price: $450 USD + $30 shipping.

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It Began With Some Melting

While I have a few hundred original pieces of art under my belt,  I can’t explain where any of them begins, or ends for that matter.

The masters have often said that a painting never ends that is so true, especially with the way I do mine . . . the style and the technique of it. Because it’s done on-screen it is very easy to take a finished piece from yesterday (or from a decade ago) and play with it, re-mold it in a way, and come up with something entirely different. It’s quite remarkable really . . . always a creative adventure.

However, there is the seldom-talked-about issue of where a picture begins – the other side of “never ending”. My creations are often a collaboration of what already exists, such as an orange, followed by the re-shaping of that object. For example, I’ll take that orange, peel it, keep that white pulp at the top, strip it down into wedges, break a few wedges, squeeze a little juice, and then arrange it on a scanner and load the image into my computer.

The whole process is largely intuitive, and by experimenting with some innovative scanning techniques, I often get a remarkable 3D effect in the scanned image. After that the real fun begins, as different images appear within that image – small and large ones – and several in any given scanned image of anything. I draw and re-draw what I see, over and over, often 4 – 10 hours at a time, and after several such sessions what is left is completely dissociated from that orange.

Allah’s in Wonderland

The truth is though, without that orange the art wouldn’t exist, and the same goes for all those pieces that involve real leaves, and so on. So back to the beginning issue, where did the leaves or the orange begin? I hope you read that as a rhetorical question. I hope even more that you can appreciate how it’s validity . . . it does tie in beautifully with the theme of how everything in nature blends . . . perhaps something universally true, but not necessarily in the physical sense?

So enough of that . . . now for a few words on my latest creation. This piece is actually what I’ll call a 4th generation piece – it is preceded by 3 other very unique creations. The first piece did not involve anything organic like an orange or a leaf. It began with the scan of an intimate gift, let’s just refer to it as a piece of cloth.  Because of this intimacy, I won’t tell you more, but here is a look at the second generation of the art that came from this gift:

Digital art by Lawrence Grodecki

Eventually this picture became today’s new introduction. I have several variations of this new painting . Each is wonderfully playful & poetic, but I’m only showing one today. I think the name fits perfectly.

Introducing “The Ice Breakers”

So without further delay, here it is, “The Ice Breakers”.  You can click the image to go to the detailed page for a larger view, as well as order options and details . . . enjoy the picture, feel free to let your mind wonder, and relax, or not?

The Ice Breakers - fine art

The Ice Breakers – Limited Edition Creation by Lawrence Grodecki

close up of Angel's Calling

Treats and Treatments

I remember my first art lesson quite well. It was in the first grade, in a tiny school where one room combined the first three grades. The desks were wooden and each had a hole in it to hold little jars of ink. I figured that out for myself, by the ink blots on each desk, and I so much wanted some ink to play with. Sadly though, technological development had rendered the wells dry . . . damn ballpoints.

That first lesson was pretty simple. The teacher put up a large colored poster of a heart, so there was lots of red. It was a colored illustration that showed the inside of a heart, as if someone had sliced it open, like you would see in a textbook back in 1962. The lesson was pretty simple, “Here’s some paper, now draw a picture of the heart”.

Despite the lack of ink, me and my pencil had fun with it, and it was really easy . . . after all, the only thing one had to do was copy it. The fun part was seeing the cave inside this heart, and those slides that brought the blood in from several directions. It looked exactly like the snow forts we built in the winter, an igloo-type mini-mountain, but one with many hole-entrances around the dome. You had to enter through one of those holes and then slide down the winding tunnel . . . like a simple labyrinth. Once inside, there were a few hidden chambers, so it we could even play a little hide-and-seek. After building this masterpiece, the drawing of a heart was second nature.

Back To The Future, in a Roundabout Way

There were several more such art lessons over the next few years – I’m sure there was at least three or four. What I really remember well was the self-instruction around grade 5, in the visits to the library on hot summer afternoons. That’s where I met Dali and Da Vinci. Given the small size of the library there should be no surprise that they rested there, side by side.

Those dreamy curves of Dali drew me in big-time, and the colors as well. I don’t think I read more than a few words, probably no more than the titles of the pictures. There was no analysis, no need to figure anything out. It was simply a peaceful, solitary interlude from the heat . . . a break after baseball, and now that I think of it, more importantly, it was an escape from the horrible chore of pulling weeds out of the garden.

Now skip ahead 40 years or so and another art lesson took place. Instead of a teacher though, the call to draw a heart (or whatever) came from some software on a CD. I had no choice but to explore it and the teacher came in the form a manual – I wonder if I will ever read the remaining 75% of it? I still had no ink to get messy with, so I did the best I could on the screen. Eventually, with my ink-jet printer, I finally did find a way to get at least a little mucked up from time to time . . . damned cartridges!

It didn’t take long to have my dreamy Dali fun with all of it, and now when I look at where the art has taken me, in a word it’s all “good”.

That’s about it for now. I wrote this post as kind of an announcement of a major change to this blog. That is in the form of adding a number of my creations on here – see “Limited Edition Prints” in the top menu for more information. Better yet, click and enjoy the tour . . . and please don’t worry about too much analysis . . . best to just listen to the heart.

Finally, here’s a treat for you, something a dear online friend shared with me. It’s what happens when Dali combines motion with emotion, and it too simply feels “good”!

I Need To Cover My Ass

I have some bad news today.

Apparently someone in the government noticed one of pictures on Twitter. It’s the one I call, “Not My Best Side”.

I have been ordered to remove the picture from the internet unless I agree to cover the bare bum on the bottom. At first I thought this must be a joke. I mean where else can I cover a bare bum, but on the bottom?

So I asked why. They said they can appreciate how Dali wanted to paint a picture with a woman’s breasts on her back. However, they told me I am not Dali, nor Spanish, and in Canada – in this day and age – this is simply not permitted. I pleaded to be given the option to simply cover the breasts, but the official said the cloth in the picture would not do that sufficiently, but it appears that there is enough material to cover aforementioned buttocks.

Needless to say, I will be taking this up with the Secretary of the External Affairs. In the meantime, in the spirit of civil disobedience, I am continuing to show “Not My Best Side”, as shown below. Today, more than ever, I could use your support by way of your comments on the form at the bottom.

Art by Lawrence Grodecki

Not My Best Side

By the way, now that it’s well in to April, a belated Happy April Fool’s Day!