Now what movie-loving blogger can resist posting something about Back to the Future Day?
It’s funny how all the talk is about the technology, though to me the movie was also a romantic comedy. Speaking of which, last weekend I saw a wonderful film called “Learning to Drive”, though it had nothing to do with DeLoreans and hover boards. Actually it’s not really a romantic comedy either. However, it has several moments of lol surprises, and even more about what evolves into a very endearing relationship between two middle-aged people, played by Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson.
In many ways the film defies categorization as well as stereotyping. The film is superbly written by Sarah Kernochan; I’d say that is the underlying strength of it all – especially the dialogue – though the acting is splendid as well. As you can tell, I’m no professional when it comes to reviews, but I will say that all the reviews I’ve read about “Learning to Drive” are very accurate, and all quite positive. I highly recommend it, especially for those of us who get tired of the presence of too much technology in so much of today’s cinema.
As you can see, this has very little to do with “Back to the Future”. There’s enough stuff on that all over the internet today. As for that hover board, here’s a little segue for all the tech fans! 🙂
Perhaps the oddest thing about art is that a lot of people seem more interested in the person doing it than in the art itself. That always makes me think that there must be something wrong with my art!
It’s even stranger that I’ve become the same way in many cases, “Who is this person behind this painting or song or sculpture?” So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised about getting what feels like a lot of personal attention from some very dear fans . . . still, it’s a little unnerving putting one’s self out there . . . often it feels downright narcissistic, but mostly it feels undeserving.
To make matters worse, it seems the blog posts people enjoy most are the ones that include my little blasts from the past . . . those personal little stories.
Time to get out the birthday suit!
So tomorrow is my birthday – 58 and painting like I’m thirty-something – and I wonder if there will be any surprises? I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was drifting back to so many milestones, in particular this time of the year but 39 years ago. I was the same age then that my youngest daughter is now. She is finishing her university life this term, while I was just beginning mine back then.
That started in Vancouver, at Simon Fraser University . . . it’s on top of Burnaby Mountain, to be more precise. It was a newer school, renown for it’s architecture, designed by Arthur Erickson. It wasn’t a huge university back then – a recluse for the fans of the liberal arts – the smart, driven folks went to the much more conservative University of British Columbia (UBC). That was a long time ago though – I’m sure much has changed since then.
I went there for one main reason. In my youth I was always fascinated by the movies and in 1979 Simon Fraser was the only school in western Canada that any kind of film studies program . . . and a minor at that . . . I majored in psychology.
Yes, I did take one psych course – intro psych – plus a course in intro botany or biology, which I never took in high school, so I damn near failed that one, though I loved all the line art and photography in the text book. There was another intro course that I simply cannot remember and then there was this double course, a six-credit doozer called “History of Italian Renaissance Art”.
Apparently that art course had something to do with the film studies program, though I have no idea what that may have been. What was more apparent was that the man who taught really knew his stuff. Through the term I found out that he was one of the world’s leading experts on the subject, and he had the passion to go with the reputation.
He had all his own slides and we would spend hour after hour in a theater looking at every square inch of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in great detail, while he told us all kinds of stories. In hindsight though, I think we really only grazed the surface on the lives of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, and so many more.
Then there was the smaller, once-a-week workshops on more specialized topics . . . I chose the literature one. It was all about some dude named Dante, and myself and about a dozen other became intimate with The Divine Comedy and La Vita Nuova. What I remember most is how Robin (the first name of the professor), would explain who each character was in real life . . . the ones portrayed in one part of Dante’s Inferno.
They represented various merchants, bankers, clergy, and other people in some form of “leadership”. It was all very awful, yet fascinating at the same time. As was Dante’s quest to write about the notion of pure love in La Vita Nuova.
What has stuck with the most over all these years is that the art of that time was very much intermixed with the developments in science and technology . . . the introduction of perspective by Leonardo, for example. This has helped me on a personal level, as I’ve struggled through the years of, “but is it art?”, in terms of being a digital painter.
In the past couple of years that has finally changed – digital art is becoming more mainstream, or at least finally “accepted”. Yet I’m still uncomfortable with that. Frankly I’d like to drop the reference to “digital” altogether and just focus on the art as being simply art.
I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future any more than I can say that I can just paint and keep my personal stories just that . . . personal, as in “private”. Then again, I suppose I could just write another novel about love and continue to hide a few anecdotes in there? It has not all been a divine comedy, but then is anything funny without a little tragedy?
Anyway, there’s no sense getting too philosophical the day before one’s birthday. Now I’ll sit back and wait for those precious well wishes . . . and the magical surprise of some glorious birthday cheesecake?
Finally, here’s a wonderful clip of a nearby park. It’s the place for where I first got to see a bison eye-to-eye, at the age of nine. We were only about ten feet away, and the gazing was only for a few seconds, but I can still remember it so very clearly. This park is about a 10 minute drive from the town where I grew up (Dauphin) and an hour’s drive from where I’m sitting right now (Brandon). It’s beautiful there. I don’t know that it has influenced my art in any way, but one can always hope.
Not long ago NASA made their big announcement about Pluto. I was happy for all the people who worked so hard on the project, but “happy with a small h”.
You see, I don’t need NASA to “prove” there is life elsewhere in the universe. I’ve come to understand that long ago through a couple of simple truths. One is that the universe is undeniably infinite and the other is that Earth is alive. From there the realization comes easily . . . life exists everywhere around us – everywhere – though so far away.
The Teacher and the Teaching
In the past ten years I’ve learned a lot and seen a lot, including this remarkable cloud that kind of parked itself between me and the sun. I stopped my bike ride to just gaze up and watch it. The cloud was in the shape of Africa, and it was a better rendition than I could possibly draw. After maybe 5 minutes of being still it slowly drifted away, but oddly intact – it’s shape didn’t change as the light of the sun came out over the top.
I mention Africa because many years ago I read about a pre-Christian sub-Saharan culture that had an intimate understanding that Earth is alive, that it had a birth, and that eventually it will die. That’s pretty profound when you think about, especially in the context of understanding this without all the bells and whistles. Nature can be a very precious teacher . . . so I wonder about what that relationship was, way back then, that led to such wonderful wisdom? It must have been very special.
Those Darn Words
Now here’s the stickler about those things we call words. I must have seen at least half a dozen news clips about the NASA news and each time the excitement was about “discovering another planet that supports life”. They could have said, “it may be another planet that’s alive”, but they didn’t. And it is very much a cultural thing.
Today it took a music artist from the states to remind of all this – Azealia Banks – her thing is hip hop. I watched her do a highly charged radio interview some of it really got to me. First there was her anger and frustration at the current and ongoing racial degradation. Then there was her genuine and tearful dismay at what she sees as a further loss of memory of all that was the Africa of long ago.
You may think all this is weird, coming from a white guy from a Polish background, living in Canada. Maybe so, can’t figure that out myself, but I’ve long ago given up on asking myself “why?” about pretty much everything. Finally, it’s not really weird at all if you strip away all those labels . . . they really do seem dangerous.
We have so much to do before celebrating Pluto too much, given how we can make the fruit here on Earth so very bitter. NASA can’t help in that endeavor.
This unfinished piece is one of my earliest on-screen creations. It’s about 10 years old now. I’m showing it here and now for a couple of reasons.
First, lately I’ve been asked more questions about my art in terms of meaning and such. Frankly it is much easier for me to talk about that in the bigger picture context rather than in any one piece. However, that can be a bit like opening Pandora’s Box, even though it really revolves around a simple truth, “There are no lines in nature.”
By the way, this painting up top is simply called “Hmmm”.
It is meant to be a playful statement – more like a question – and it is about nature. It’s also about science. The scientific method came about as a different way of observing nature. As it can all get quite complicated, it can also be easily forgotten that the essence of the activity is really that simple. Perhaps the thing that disturbs me the most is that it can easily be forgotten that it is only one way to observe nature. The only thing more disturbing is when someone claims that it is the ultimate or superior or “only true way” to make these observations.
On the more positive, playful side of things, “Hmmm” represents a lot of fun I had in wondering how nature observes us, doing all our science, as represented by the pie chart. Thanks for stopping by.
I’ve always liked the look of Mobius curves. However, I’ve never understood the math that tries to explain it . . . those infinite loops. They do remind me of what the poets, romantics and dreamers talk about . . . eternal love or endless love. Are those terms one and the same? The question becomes somewhat perplexing if you equate eternal with divine.
I’m a stickler with the definition of words, and that annoys the hell out of some people when I stop and ask about what this or that one means. I don’t do it to be a jerk or a smart-ass. I do it because if the discussion is worth having then maybe we need to slow down and look what is behind the words we throw out so quickly.
Language is very odd that way – in many ways – quite fascinating really. Any given word needs another word or series of words to have meaning . . . another form of infinite looping? It seems so.
Maybe that’s why I like visual art so much, no need for words to understand? I hope this painting comes across that way. It’s called, “In the Loop” and it is one of those that can be viewed in at least two orientations, and in this case, since it was created with both in mind, shown either way is fine by me.
I should have written that perfect blog post by now. That’s the one that tells you a bunch about that new item up top on my menu bar. It’s called “Original Art”. That’s bound to get done soon, but for now here’s something a little related to that section.
The other day I tweeted an image of one these original paintings and someone came back with a request for a song to match the art. At first I was stumped, but in no time I found a great match.
I love when that happens, partly because like most artists, most often we’re not comfortable in writing descriptions of our paintings. However, I do find it lot more enjoyable discussing such matters one-on-one and privately . . . no idea why.
Anyway, today I’m giving you a glimpse of five of those 20 original paintings, along with five matching musical gems from YouTube. For me there’s a little magic in each of these videos, and if my art portrays any of that then I’d be more than a little pleased. You can click any of the art titles and see the painting in a new window. That way you can move back and forth if you wish, between the art and the music.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do . . . all of it.
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 meart 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.
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.
Not My Best Side
By the way, now that it’s well in to April, a belated Happy April Fool’s Day!
There is a saying in one of my favorite films. It is an incomplete sentence, yet when you understand it, it is more than complete:
“when the drum is no longer a drum, and drumming is no longer drumming”
For most of my art days I’ve had to defend how I do what I do – using the technology that I do – is it art? Thankfully, in more recent days the art has begun to speak for itself. Real art rises above the means of creating it . . . the drum is no longer a drum. It also rises above the artist . . . drumming is no longer drumming.
That’s the true joy of it, the “selfless part”. It is the best oasis along the journey, and it can be visited in so many ways, not just art. How so? By letting ago I suppose . . . those rare moments where all awareness of self disappears. But it seems to be more than that. Perhaps it is allowing something of the heart in, letting one’s self be a vessel for something beautiful.
In that zone there are no labels . . . no negativity. Things are seen & felt for what they are, not what they called or how that are categorized.
Whatever that is, it is truly amazing how it can persevere and be communicated to another viewer, like music for the listener. I know that’s happened with some of my fans, ones who have the art in their homes. They feel it, we both know it, and if I can, I try not to talk about it too much.
As in drumming, sometimes words may only get in the way.
I’m going to leave it at that for now. Ironically I had prepared a 1,000 word post to touch on the same topic but somehow missed the point. I promised a few people that my next post (this post) would touch on one my latest paintings. It’s called “Pencils No. 9 and 13b”.
Thankfully there really are only a few words necessary. It was a playful project, and its parent image includes a pair of legs . . . but that section kind of looked like pencil crayons. I chuckled, sharpened my on-screen pencil and played a little. It’s all play you know, the selfless aspect. So if you must see them as legs, then see them as legs. If you want to see them as pencils, then see them as pencils.
All I can say is that in creation there is never a dull moment! So here it is, and clicking the image will take you to it’s page on my art site.
Pencils No. 9 and 13b – now on Fine Art America
Have a wonderful day, and if you would like to see the Zen drummers that are the basis of that movie, you can watch them in concert as well, or perhaps I should say that you can watch them disappear? I can, and I hope you do.
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 – 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:
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:
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”
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”.
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?