Tag Archives: Dada

Painting: Rorschach 11, Festive

Rorschach 11, Festive, acrylic on 11″ x 14″ bristol paper, August 6, 2012

Rorschach 11, Festive, acrylic on 11″ x 14″ bristol paper, August 6, 2012

Rorschach 11, Festive, acrylic on 11″ x 14″ bristol paper, August 6, 2012

Rorschach 11, Festive, acrylic on 11″ x 14″ bristol paper, August 6, 2012

Rorschach 11, before

Before I folded this one I literally said to myself, “this could really suck”.  Then I opened it up and it really didn’t!

The thing I like most about these ‘rorschachs’ is the strong element of chance to them.  Chance in artwork — one of the Dada’s best ideas imo.  I squirt the paint on and try to do some kind of composing, but I really have no idea at all what it’s going to look like when I open it up.  This one looks nothing like I intended when I was laying the paint down.  I was thinking “more like a structure, architectural, than like a face or smashed bug”, but is that what I got?  Heck no!  🙂  As always with these, I got a surprise.  And I thought it looked festive.  Even the dots I added did not fall as I intended.  I don’t have as much control dripping them out of the bottle as I thought I would.  But by then I just went with it and didn’t fret too much when the paint ridges some of them hit distorted them from the dots I hoped for.

The thing I dislike about these is that they take almost zero in the way of skill.  They’re so easy I really don’t feel like I’ve done anything at all special.  But that’s just more ‘artist psychological’ nonsense — I know that much.  It’s just meaningless chatter, just a flapping door.  None of this means anything anyway.  Few things in life really do, and this is not one of them.  🙂

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Sunrise over the garbage pile, small painting 17

Sunrise over the garbage pile, small painting 17, acrylic on 8″ x 10″ canvas board, May 2012

“The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.”
– John Cage

I must admit, my head is definitely not in the same place as John Cage when he said that.

Yes, I cannot put my finger on why I dislike it.  And there are parts of it I do like.  And I am getting used to it overall.  Time and acceptance are blunting my initial reaction to whatever this is I’ve wrought.

Do I dislike it because it’s too busy?  Arguably it is.  But I know many of you like that.  No, this is not the reason.

Do I dislike it because there’s still too much icky green from the blue and yellow washes that ran together?  Maybe.  I have spent most of the time on this trying to paint better things over that.  Some of those are the parts I like — mainly the blue and white northwest of the sun — but as I was working on this it seemed like nothing I did could ‘fix’ it.

My daughter even helped.  The upper elongated green blob on the left is hers.  🙂 That didn’t fix it either.

At first glance my overall impression is still “ick”.  It has something to do with the red blobs in both upper corners, though they look fine, even good, of themselves.  I find my eyes resting on the sun I painted over the mess, taking solace there.  Which is why I painted it.

This is the painting that started like this:

The hopeful beginnings of “Sunrise over the garbage pile, small painting 17″, acrylic on 8″ x 10” canvas board, May 2012

Anyway, it’s a painting and I am done with it.  It’s a small painting, it’s experimental, on a cheap canvas board,  and I’m moving on.

Enjoy!  🙂  If you can…

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Paintings in Progress

Well, I have several paintings in progress but none finished.  So whatever shall I post about today?  Should I trot out some more of my old computer art?  Colorful expressions part 3?  A weird dream I had a few months ago (involving breaking my legs)?  Hmmm.

How about some of the paintings in progress?

11" x 16"

This is the 11″ x 16″ canvas I’ve been working on for a while.  I like the green things but I’ve kind of run out of steam here.  Need to get back on this one.

8" x 10"

There are 21 dot stickers masking the background here, some of which have already become difficult to find.  I probably should have taken a picture of where they are before I pulled out the palette knife…

8" x 10"

This will make a nice background… for something…

8" x 10"

This started as drips that ran off another painting I’m working on (not shown), so there’s an element of random chance to it.  🙂  That’s the blue part.  This is actually looking better so far than the painting the blue ran off of.  But I have some ideas for that too.

8" x 10"

This photo came out blurry, but you’re not missing much.  Similar idea with washes of yellow and orange.

Early stages of "No Excuse", acrylic, 8" x 10" canvasboard, March 2012

And what the heck, while I’m posting stuff like this, the above is the early “Chernobyl” stage of “No Excuse“.

So that’s some of what’s laying around the studio…

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Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

As Dada is a frequent theme on this blog, and as I’m a big fan of XKCD, I couldn’t resist posting this!

 

NOW INVENT AN IMPOSSIBLE-TO-TRANSLATE LANGUAGE AND USE IT TO TELL US WHERE THE MONEY IS.

NOW INVENT AN IMPOSSIBLE-TO-TRANSLATE LANGUAGE AND USE IT TO TELL US WHERE THE MONEY IS.

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Painting update!

First, here is the Fairy painting in the frame:

Fairy, framed, a Christmas gift for my daughter, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas

Fairy, framed, a Christmas gift for my daughter, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas

I made the frame out of corner molding, and have had a lot of “fun” actually getting this thing into the frame.  Third attempt is in progress now, as I write.  While the glue dries on that, I’ll relate the annoying tale.  I made the frame just a little too big.  Something about cutting the pieces with the miter box, and getting them the length I measured, eludes me.  I can make the top and bottom, and the sides the same length without a problem, but it tends to come out too big once I get the painting in.  I had the same trouble with the frame I made for this painting.  Anyway, I liked the size because the opening was exactly the perfect size to not cover up any of the painting.  I paint seriously all the way out to the edges of the canvas, so I don’t really want to cover any of the painting up, even with the frame.  So I went ahead and painted the frame.  What I did not realize at that point was that this size left me with few options for securing the painting to the frame…  First I tried using brads to hold it in, but they’re just too short to hold in the wood of the frame, and hold onto the canvas stretchers.  They tend to just fall out, and one did Christmas morning.  And corner molding is thin, so I can’t nail them in very far without splitting the wood.  Which I did twice.  Glued that back together on Christmas Eve and tried using a combination of the brads and popsicle sticks glued together along the sides to hold the painting in position inside the frame.  This was all dry Christmas morning and I gave it to my daughter.  She loved it!  I had no reason to fear on that point.  🙂  As she unwrapped further gifts I picked it up and the painting fell out.  Luckily no one saw that.  So now the brads are out and I’m gluing short chunks of the corner molding inside the frame, using their angles to hold the painting in.  If that works, tomorrow I’ll hang the dang thing.  Sheesh.

So after briefly getting back to one of the paintings you all voted on, I started this instead!

...in progress, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas

...in progress, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas

This was inspired by two things :  First, the ice stalactites and nemertean worms under the antarctic ice from the “Creatures of the Deep” episode of David Attenborough’s Life.  (Very cool video there.)

I’ve also been reading more about Dada.  I talk about it so much on this blog, I figured I really should know more about it, and it’s inspired me before; with more exposure it likely will again.   Actually it just did: my second inspiration was Hans Arp’s “Automatic Drawing”, in the Dada collection of MoMA.  More ‘nemertean worms’ and other organic shapes there.  So yeah, this painting is kind of busy, but it started out that way

Another aspect of Dada was a rebellion against how calcified and rigid the definition of what was and was not art had become, at that time.  Even though impressionism had loosened things up a bit, it was not enough for the Dadas.  They blew the definition of art wide open, to pretty much everything we count as art today, with works like Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain.  This I think was done in the spirit of, “I’ll do whatever the hell I want and call it art, and declare that it’s not art at the same time just to mess with you, even as it sits in an art gallery.”  If somehow you have missed ever hearing about this (I know, it happens), yes, it’s a manufactured urinal turned on its side and signed “R. Mutt” by the artist.  So I was also painting the above in the spirit of, “I’ll paint whatever the hell I want to paint even if it does look like crap!”  Or more articulately, too much red at this point I think, and too ‘squeezed in’…

I also made a lot of progress with this one, but it’s so close to done now that I think I’ll just try to finish it up and post it Friday in lieu of an update now.

~ ~ ~

Update to the update!  The third attempt at framing the fairy finally worked, and it’s hanging on the wall now.  🙂

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Eight paintings in progress! Eight!!

Clearly I like starting new things more than finishing old ones!  But eight is really too many to have “in flight”.  That’s not counting the five I’ve decided are “stalled”.  It’s a gray area between “in progress” and “stalled”.  I fear some that I’m still counting as ‘in progress’ are actually stalled.  Anyway, here they are!

Yes, I am thinking the ones I’ve been working on for a while really should get done first, but with Christmas less than two weeks away #8 here has jumped to the front of the line.  Yes, it’s a fairy.  No, its not my usual choice of subject matter…   “Grunt, snort, hooah!” he said as he awkwardly broke eye contact to stare intently at the floor.

It’s a Christmas gift for my daughter.  ‘Nuff said and we need never speak of this again.  (kidding — feel free to tell me how awesome it is)   🙂

Yes, it's a fairy. It's a Christmas gift for my daughter.

Moving right along, I’ve been experimenting with modeling paste!  That’s fun with a capital PH!  So it’s modeling phaste?  Anyway, it’s in kind of a ‘St. George’s Cross’ phase now, but I’m excited to get back to this one!  Textures, baby!

Woo-hoo! Modeling paste!

I’ve also been experimenting with washes.  I mixed some paint and water and produced this:

Wash #1. A background for future abstactions!

It’s going to be background for my next free form abstraction.  Look for this to go the direction of Andlega Landslagi.  Though I like the outcome, that wasn’t really what I was looking for.  So I hit up YouTube and saw that usually artists apply water to the canvas first:

Wash #2. A background for future abstactions!

I liked this more, but also heard tell of liquid paints whilst in the land of YouTube.  So the next day I bought some:

Wash #3. A background for future abstactions!

And that is frickin’ awesome if I do say so myself.  And there is a considerable element of chance here too.  (I’ve since learned that the Dada who was first interested in chance as an artistic principle was Hans Arp, who was always my favorite Dada anyway.)  It took about 5 minutes to apply the water and color, then they each took overnight to dry.  By morning they’d all changed a lot since I last saw them the night before.  In the first and third, I used no green.  All that green is from the blue and yellow slowly mixing in the night.  I was having so much fun with this that after the third I decided I really had to stop, and paint on these first before I fill up all my blank canvases with awesome oozing colors.

Then there are the other three, which are at various points on the edge of ‘stalled’.

*Still* in progress. Just a smidge more progress shown here.

...in progress

...in progress

...in progress

...in progress

So you tell me — which of these last three should I finish first?  Comments are always welcome, and now you also get to tell me which painting you want to see me get done first!  🙂

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Abstract photography


Last weekend I did somethin’ weird.  With my camera.  When my daughter asked me what I was doing, I said “Something weird.”  She needs to get used to the fact that her dad does weird stuff.  Thinking back on that now though, I think she already knows this.  Anyway, now I’m calling it ‘abstract photography’.

Four things came together that led me to this particular weird activity, though I am definitely not the only one doing this sort of thing.  First, reading Aaron Leaman’s awesome blog lately has given me a new-found artistic appreciation of ‘blurry photos’ if you will, or what I’m now calling abstract photography.  He’s really good — you should check out his work.  Second, I’ve been thinking lately about something I read years ago that some of the Dadaists — I can’t remember who or where I read this — wanted to incorporate random elements into their work.  As part of the Dadaist rebellion against the limited scope of what was at that time considered art, and more to the point what was not, they wanted their work to in some ways happen by itself, or at least to some extent be created not by the artists direct control in making the work.  They wanted it to be literally spontaneous — self-generated — not of their own doing.  Taken with this idea, I’ve been thinking of how I might do, or should I say cause, something like that.  I mean, I could pour and drip paints or washes onto canvas à la Jackson Pollock and let them run around as gravity and the terrain of canvas texture wills… but that just doesn’t interest me.

Then, third, I remembered this photo that spontaneously sprang into being on my phone about two years ago.  I do not remember taking it, do not remember ‘messing up’ a photo, and have no freakin’ idea what it is… but I love it.  It’s bright, blue and glowy.

A gift from my phone

A gift from my phone

Last, I remembered an idea I had when I was first messing with video cameras as a teenager.  I wanted to tie the camera to the branch of a tree and suspend the camera just above the ground and swing it.  This I thought would make an effect of dizzying speed as the camera flew just above the grass and spun around.  Back then though, the camera I’m talking about recorded on full size VHS tapes and you had to carry it around on your shoulder it was so big.  And it was borrowed.  So I did not attempt this.  Later in life when I bought my own 8mm camcorder, I still did not want to risk it to this half baked idea.  But then last weekend!  This idea fell into place with the other three and I thought heck — my digital camera is not that heavy and it’s getting old anyway.  I wouldn’t be too broken up if I had to buy a new one.  So I strung it up and set it spinning  and swinging from the branches of various trees in my yard, using the auto-timer to attain the total Dadaist randomness of me having no idea or control over the composition of the resulting photos, beyond swinging the camera initially.

What resulted was even more awesome than I hoped, even from the first shot:

Woosh!

Woosh!

This one has a nice autumnal theme to it

This one has a nice autumnal theme to it

I like this one because the flash went off -- you can see grass and leaf litter in the swoosh of green

I like this one because the flash went off -- you can see grass and leaf litter in the swoosh of green

Abstract evergreen

Abstract evergreen

I still haven't figured out what this is, but I like it!

I still haven't figured out what this is, but I like it!

No idea what the black bird-shaped thing is. None.

No idea what the black bird-shaped thing is. None.

A nice landscape

A nice landscape

A waterscape

A waterscape

Abstract landscape

Abstract landscape

Is this a self-portrait or a picture the camera itself took of me?

Is this a self-portrait or a picture the camera itself took of me?

And the string did break towards the end, but the camera is ok.  It landed in the grass…

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