Category Archives: Fine Art America

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.

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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.

 

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!

The Hole Picture

Pigeonholing is essentially  term that describes an attempt to classify in a mutually exclusive way. Put another way, it is like trying to make something discreet as opposed to a continuum. In that way it becomes somewhat limiting.

This can be frustrating for creative types. For example, in the case of my writing, I never considered the relevance of genre while writing “Dawn at Last”. However, once the marketing of the book started, it seemed like something I needed to do – had to do for online purposes. When you think about it, every database is a process of pigeonholing. That’s true with every social media site as well as places like Amazon and Fine Art America.

It took a long to find the right hole for the book, and I’m actually very comfortable, or perhaps relieved, to be classified as an author who writes literary fiction. That’s because it not only fits my style, but it is also a style that is very broad in definition . . . after all, it’s all about the characters, unusual and somewhat unpredictable ones, and the plot is secondary, though still important.

Similarly, in art I put I put myself in the abstract hole right out of the gate. That seemed very straightforward at first, though lately I like to think of my style as “abstract-figurative”. That’s because most of my art includes the female form and some also includes other mysterious creatures such as birds.

The Invisible Nest

Whether in art or writing, there is something I try to convey about the selfless aspect of life. That seems to be such an amazing part of the natural way of things, yet for most it seems so hard to see or comprehend. I try to make it easier, but without preaching . . . more subtle. In the context the abstract term makes a lot of sense. After all, this selfless aspect of life is so full of mystery . . . invisible, non-physical, imaginary yet very real.

Perhaps that is the most frustrating dichotomy. Someone we have been taught that the term imaginary means “something not real”. One again there’s the discrete . . . zero/ one . . . yes/ no. Buddhism talks about a life force that moves through sentient beings. As such this force fits the description of imaginary or non-physical . . . but it is not separate from the physical, just selfless.

This is one reason why I seldom have faces in any of my art. It’s funny how in our culture this is offensive to some, kind of “dehumanizing”. I see it so differently though. For me it is an attempt to move beyond the individual and convey the importance of the selfless reality – something much bigger than ourselves.

That’s one reason. On a more pragmatic level I don’t like the fine detail that can go into the painting of faces. I’m actually in awe of that kind of art when I see it, and if I had a mind to I could easily go down that stream. I know because that’s what I did when learning to draw, and as wonderful as it is I found it too easy in a way . . . simply technique and detail.

That is by no means a knock on any of those skills or that style. In fact it is more of an admission that there are so many out there doing it that there is no real need for me to join that flock.

Accepting The Flaws

Again, being pragmatic, I have decided to try something with faces, yet still continue in my style. In doing so there has been this deeper understanding how even in a portrait, what makes it special is not the image but the underlying emotions. It’s there in every fine piece of art . . . the 4th dimension or is it the fifth?

So after all that, without further adieu, I’m putting my first face out for public display. This picture is called “Perfectly Flawed” and if you understand any of what I’ve written above, I think you will have a better appreciation of both the words above and the visual message as shown below:

Perfectly Flawed

 

Soft Touches

I’ve just released another new work on Fine Art America. While it is still “in my style”, it is also somewhat different for me. Perhaps it’s the lighter, almost paste shades?

Here’s a peek at it, and if you would like, use this link to see more abstract art on Fine Art America.

abstract art

Soft Touches – A new Introduction by Lawrence Grodecki