September 30, 2017

Finding joy each day.

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 6:20 pm

There are so many things a person can do on any given day. We have commitments such our jobs, family routines, and community obligations and these things are often the source of great pleasure and fulfillment. 

Saturdays are a little bit more free and have a larger variety of choices we can make. Mine might range from cleaning my house, to working in the late season yard, or grabbing my fishing pole, or even going out for a drive to see colors. All of the things I could list here are fine, to be sure, and I could feel good about any one of the choices of how to spend the day.
Sometimes the day is not planned long in advance, but happen with all the spontaneity typical of a lovely fall day.
In my case, even with all of the many Saturday options available, I chose to pick up a paintbrush and play with color – to give myself the gift of painting, since it is one of the things that brings me great joy. You must always make the time to choose joy.
This small self portrait was what I painted today.

September 3, 2017

Evening play

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 1:53 pm

Not every painting is inspired by an event, or done from a photo I’ve taken. Neither is it captured on site at the moment of a sunset, or even specifically intended for a learning process. Sometimes picking up a brush can be just about going into the relaxed state that pushing paint around affords. 

This little painting is not a real place and not from a photo, but  is just from a relaxed place in my mind. Think of it as doodling. We’ve all been known to doodle up and down the sides of note-taking, a grocery list, or some other scrap of paper while we’re thinking about other things. This is a little like that. I wanted to play and think about planning and dark and light and change, as I doodle my way through the process of painting. It is one way I process thoughts not even related to art. Sometimes it’s about processing what goes on in your day job, your relationships, or projects around the house that you need to think about. It becomes a mediation tool, a distraction, or an emotional or perspective leveler.
An artist and their works are interwoven and cannot be fully understood independent one from the other. I hope you enjoy this painting as an insight into the mind and workflow of a working artist.

April 22, 2017

Painting just for fun.

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 11:39 am

To really keep up the continual process of discipline with my painting, regardless of the motivation of commission, show presentation, or lectures, it is important to work… as often as possible but weekly at the very least. The more I paint, the less I am subject to the trap of painting only when I feel motivated to, and the better my skills become. 

View from the middle of a Midwest cornfield a good bit after sun's rise.

View from the middle of a Midwest cornfield a good bit after sun’s rise.

One of the most important parts of this whole process is that I continue to remember it is not about whether the final painting is perfect but about what I learned along the way. It is also vital that I enjoyed making it.

What is not important is if it is liked by everyone or that it “wows” anyone. Even less important is if it sells. Commerce has it’s place, of course, as does popular opinion but I must continue to paint regardless of the natural ebb and flow equated to either of those effects.

I give you my latest work, a 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas of early morning over a typical Midwestern cornfield. I do hope you enjoy it, and thank you for following my work.

January 7, 2017

New year’s work – #3

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 3:14 pm

quiet-mill-pondThis third painting was still on the easel when I had to go back to work so it was finished in bits after I get home each day from working in the library. The combination of building, water, and trees make for another kind of challenge.
These 3 new paintings are a forecast of what I should be able to accomplish with the new style changes. I am having fun again and I am relatively satisfied with the outcome.
Oddly, when I first began to digest the wisdom shared with me last March I felt I needed to completely revamp who I was and what I did and embrace every bit I was told. What has happened was what should always happen during the learning experience. I synthesized what was given. Some of the advice was valid for me and some was not. I incorporated some of the bits and some I rejected. I am my own person. My filter is my own. My vision is my own.
I thank the artist for taking his time to lend gentle voice for my sake and I have become better for the advice. 

January 6, 2017

New year’s work – #2

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 5:49 pm

Here is the second painting. It is a completely new subject for me but I thought that as long as I was trying new things I would try some architectural subjects like boats and buildings. It also forced me to do water – always a bit of a challenge for me. Still a small canvas at 11 x 14, it was also great fun to do. Laid out quickly and loosely with all of the large brush blocking again, it made progress fast and gestural and pleasurable. Again, by the time I shifted to a smaller brush to work on the detail and edges I was having serious fun and spending barely half the time I used to spend belaboring the same size canvas.

I will post the final painting when I get done this weekend. 

January 5, 2017

New year’s work – #1

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 8:47 pm

As I said yesterday, I created several new works that reflect the next phase of my development and will roll them out here over several days. 
The first one, shown here, is a small, 11 x 14 landscape that was great fun to do. It was laid out quickly and loosely with all of the large brush blocking of my plein aire studies over the summer. That made its progress fast and gestural, and quite fun. By the time I shifted to a smaller brush to work on the detail and edges I was ready for the pleasure that painting detail brings me. There-in lies my meditative concentration that I was missing when I tried to stay true to the fully plein aire impressionistic style. Yes, it still looks like I have spent a crazy amount of time on the piece but, in fact, I have cut my time substantially.  So sufficiently that I am able to complete more work, more quickly.
I think I am finding that balance of the good marriage.

January 4, 2017

New and Hopeful Year.

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 6:58 pm

The holidays are now past and I, like most, have gone back to our working patterns. I had been fortunate enough to have the week off between Christmas and New Years but unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well so it became a quiet time at home. The great part of a sta-cation like this is that it gave me time to gather my thoughts and separate out the work tasks and plans from my painting tasks and goals and apply the evaluation I have been doing during the last couple of months. By the end of the week I began to paint. I created several new works that reflect the next phase of my development and will roll them out here over the next several days. Let’s call these New year’s work since 2 were completed over the new Year’s weekend with a third, well started.

November 22, 2016

Contemplative-part two

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 7:09 pm

Through the course of this summer, as I have contemplated bringing these two methods together, I have referred to the process as marrying the two styles. It’s an interesting term and somehow fitting because a good marriage is about balance. Balance does not necessarily mean bean-countingly equal or always 50/50, but a fluid blending where one or the other may predominate occasionally.

Detail with the large brush.

A detail shot of working with the large brush.

One’s strength is another’s weakness and visa versa. It is the blended balance of the two becoming one that actually provides the strength, and the combination of the two diverse components (or partners) create better versions of themselves in the unity.

This weekend I began my first painting in the studio that is an attempt to bring these two paint handling styles together. It feels clumsy and it does not yet have that extra spark but there are parts of what is happening that I like. I predict that once the new marriage finds its balance it has the potential to make me happy like my landscapes have in the past.

It is notably faster with an initial layout process only hours instead of days long. I attempted to stick to the one inch brush for the duration, and could not. I have now reached for the smaller brush to put in details, and am having more fun, although now I feel like I am cheating.

November 21, 2016

Contemplative-part one

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 5:11 pm

I find myself struggling to articulate this process. I have never been good at sustained written dialogue, as those who follow this sporadic blog can attest. Art is so much more than the visible end product, but each work over a lifetime becomes the cryptic evidence of an underlying process that defines and redefines who I actually am. I knew that my self evaluation through the course of this year has been core shifting but I had no idea that it might actually be a realignment of emotions and perceptions that have been allowed to simply grow untended or guided for years. I rolled up my sleeves and walked into my secret garden after years of neglect and was appalled at the weedy, overgrown mess I had allowed. As disruptive as that imagery is, to finally confront it is actually an invigorating and healthy undertaking.
The landscapes I began to paint last year made me happy. I love the light and the color and the moods they evoke.
The plein-aire painting I have done this year has been uncomfortable and stimulating and allowed me to interact with the public in a new, spontaneous way. Now, I need to bring them together.

November 2, 2016

Processing the evaluation.

Filed under: Art Update,Waxing philosophical — kjames @ 9:53 pm

Artists would like to believe that painting is primarily about the hands on activity, raw and physical. We try to minimize the intellectual weight involved, in lieu of the assign of passionately pushing paint around a canvas. Maybe so. Maybe not. 
I will be mounting a show tomorrow afternoon that is rooted in scholarship and not in my usual venues of teaching or commerce. It is going up as one of many events in an academic showcase for our new president’s inauguration and will remain hanging in my university library for the month.
The pieces I selected were chosen to accompany and illustrate a dialogue about the importance of research to the success of the visual arts. The topic is somewhat controversial but it has been good for me to articulate some of the internal conversations this year has prompted. No doubt, the coming together of the painting in the field and the mental processing will affect my work as I come into the studio this fall.

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