July 16, 2013

Dipping Into and Out of Abstraction, part 2

While in Galway, I had a limited number of supplies because since we were there last, it has become much harder to bring along art supplies in good qualities  and still have enough space for clothes and other necessities of living in a place for a year.  In the post 9/11 world, it's harder to bring solvents and oil paints on a plane.  Also, as the airlines have focused more on cost cutting, the amount of luggage one can bring has been sharply reduced.

You're Doing Great, Son!  by Tracy Feldman
Oil on Canvas, 16 x 20"
Thus I decided I needed to simplify and streamline what I would do, buying much of the supplies I needed when there.  I decided to work in oils, and go back to realism because I had more confidence that when I returned to the States it would be easier to get a show and sell pieces that reflected in recognizable ways that I had been living in a foreign country.  Even so, my foray into abstract had an impact on my painting style.  

The painting to the right, You're Doing Great, Son!, is a good example of what I mean. I took the image for this work while on a trip to the west of Galway.  The man in the picture was probably the child's grandfather, but I wanted the piece to be part of my padonna series -- a series of paintings celebrating the father/child connection. Thus I kept the basic composition of the work, but happily added hair, and took 25 years off the appearance of the "father" to better convey the connection I wanted to explore in this work.

Above Barna  - by Tracy Feldman. Oil on Canvas. 12 x 36"

Even in paintings like  Above Barna,  you can see evidence of a looser paint application and a willingness to simplify images within a representational framework.

When we returned home to Lancaster, I did have a couple of shows featuring these and other works.  As when I was in Galway, I decided to keep following an earlier painting teacher's advice to spend some time painting on my own to help myself develop my own artistic voice better.  However,  I'm a social person whose creative juices flow more when I can interact with other artistic people.  Thus after the excitement of getting ready for the show, I found myself procrastinating around painting.  I remembered a great program that one of my former painting teachers, Andy Smith, did at the The Village Art Association  talking about the daily painting movement.  Thus I decided to join an on-line art community called Daily Paintworks, and produced and sold a number of pieces there.  However,  I realized that needing to produce a small, realistic painting 5 to 7 times a week didn't really fit my life and personality at that time.  I found myself not producing quickly enough, and that the pressure to produce in that way was pushing me back into a more literal and generally tighter painting style, and that no longer fit for me.

Thus, last spring I decided to change focus once again, sitting in on another abstract painting class, but this time at  Franklin and Marshall College.  The teacher,  Jun Cheng Liu,  a wonderful trompe l'oeil painter  whose realistic painting classes I'd sat in on a number of times.   Continued Tomorrow ... 

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