Josephine Baker Pop Art

Pop Art piece combining images of Sonny Stitt, a piano keyboard and Josephine Baker Fun piece brought about by the challenge of a friend.  Josephine Baker in the early part of her career presented a strong and irreverent image, perfect for pop art!

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Cacophpmy & CalmFor a long time, I didn’t get abstract art, and maybe still don’t.  Everyone seems to have an opinion on it, and many feel they could do that; just slop a bunch of paint on a canvas and see what happens.  Maybe there’s a bit of truth to that, who knows?

I began doing abstracts 15 years ago, and have found them to be a most refreshing change of pace from illustration and all representational art which, after all, must be specific in intent.  The intellect is in charge for almost the entire process.   In abstract art, however, the percentage of intellect verses the intuitive , instinctual, and emotional is vastly reduced, although it’s still a factor in the many decisions involved.

My process for abstracts is to begin with a pencil held loosely in my hand, and letting it trail lightly around the paper gradually forming the hints of shapes and direction.  Most of my abstracts are done in Payne’s Gray with touches of other colors in them.  Payne’s Gray seems to me to have a pallette similar to great black and white photography, and is very rich with a range that is very wide, from black to nearly white.  I feel myself “fall in” to these paintings, a world of blue/grays stimulating my imagination.  A lot of my painting, and the color value in abstracts is done consciously trying to forego the mind, which is barking of course, “over there! Put that dark area there!  It will bracket and answer the one that’s already in that spot!”   I can’t ignore those thoughts, but I can rapidly see how it feels to me if I were to listen.  So, there’s a rapid back and forth contest going on between the mind and the body, and I often actually find myself standing and  gently rocking from side to side while I’m going through this process.  it’s a lot of fun.

No matter how abstract the art, though, when most people view it, they de-abstract it and see something representational, which I find amusing.  There must be some human trait that needs to organize and make things manageable to the mind.   Pure abstract is hard for us to absorb.

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There are lots of people out there who are far more creative than I, especially if one defines “creativity” as “coming up with ideas, solutions, new thoughts that are exciting”.   I may not really fit into any of those categories, but there are times when I feel like it does fit, and so it was with Parallel Advisors and the recent art I did for their end-of-year card.    One might think that a wealth management firm would put out a pretty conservative piece, and all my initial sketches reflected that belief, but that’s not the direction the art eventually took.  What we ended up with was a piece that was semi-abstract, loose, colorful, and still had their logo prominently displayed.  It was a lot of fun for me to create, they are pleased, and it was one of those rare times when the commercial and the abstract came together. I will reproduce the art as soon as this site allows it, so for the moment, trust me. Lucas Parallel Lucas Parallel

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Stairway abstract Oct 5 2015It’s been a while since I created a lot of abstract art, mostly delegating it to between art jobs.  Yesterday, however , I found that I’ll have a one person show in March/April of 2016 and the preference is for the abstracts.  It so happens that I had begun one a few days prior, so I continued on with it, and here it is, assuming I don’t look at it and go, “hmmmmmmm……maybe I should add THIS, and subtract THAT”, which is easy to do with an abstract.  In fact, for me, the most difficult part in doing abstracts is trying to figure out when there’s no more to do.  One can ALWAYS change it.  That sort of freedom can be a terrifying thing, so one simply has to go by one’s instincts and emotions.  With figurative art, of course, there is really no such decision involved.  One has a real clear idea of when it’s done.   Still, there are similarities like composition, color, color value, and form.

The image size on this one, incidentally is 19″ w x 26″ d. It was done in watercolor and cold press watercolor paper strips was pasted on to hot press paper for new textures.

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pen and ink sketch

an hour at a Medieval village in France got me this sketch…. I had the privilege of going to the southern part of France recently, and sketched medieval architecture whenever time allowed, usually with a fountain pen.  Good old fountain pens are great for this use, especially when the finished drawing is judiciously wetted with water here and there to create shading…Fun!!

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a work in progress

a work in progress

It’s like working backwards: to have a mat and frame but no piece of art to go with it yet. And , that’s how this was created. It’s a little more structured than many of the abstracts I’ve done, and it’s not yet finished, but close enough to show. It grew and developed, and seems to be anchored by those rays emanating from that….thing.
The Payne’s gray color emulates the tonal palette of black and white photography, which was my big influence in this case, from watching 1930s movies on TV as a child.

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Pop art

Great piece, wonky edges

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So, I have an affirmation, “I am a great, warrior artist”. To say to myself that I’m a great artist means that I cannot denigrate the quality of my work. To say to myself that I’m a warrior means that I must persist with no whining allowed. In this case, we have “Michellin Pop” the piece I did recently that is displayed on my “pop art” page. I blew it on the square corners, and my angles were off by quite a bit, 3 eights of an inch. Ooops. What to do? First I took the art back home with me and tried to figure out a way to make the angles of the edges correct, but couldn’t.
I had a frame I wanted to put the art into, and I wanted it matted, but the framer and I first decided that we’d float the picture instead of matting it. They would tilt the picture ever so slightly, to cover up for the deficient square edges….but, that didn’t work, after one effort as the framer said the frame was too small, and we needed more space for this illusion to work. Ok, then, I said let’s do a bigger frame. I once again took the art home, and tore off a bit of the deckled edge, to help get the art looking a bit more squared off…..and, I didn’t really feel this was a piece to float, or to show the deckled edges either.
The cost now had quadrupled, and I knew I wasn’t going to really like the look of this, so I once again took the art home and this time I added a bit to all four edges to square those edges, although each part I added was, in effect, a long triangle.
I brought the art back to the framer, and he said it was now good enough to cut a mat for, and that illusion of clean edges and 90 degree angles would be intact.
Today I came to pick it up with great anticipation, and found this: the framer’s assistant cut the mat too close to the image, cutting off small parts of it. No good!!!
The warrior persists: let’s do it again! This piece WILL look great, as great art must, and the warrior will be victorious!!!

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Since hikiing around Marin County lately, I’ve noticed some wonderful colors, mostly bright greens, deep oranges, and a multitude of purples….this is my favorite color combination, anyway, although many of my past abstracts have been in the gray tones.  This one signals new life, Spring, and is one optimistic abstract to me.  There are a few pieces of torn watercolor paper pasted on, used for the torn edges for texture, and it seems to have a sort of explosive quality to that sphere.

the piece measures 27″ x 19″ and is matted nicely.   I’m pleased with its insoucient energy.

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abstract watercolor purples, oranges, greens

Spring Abstract 2013

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