This week’s featured painting is a piece I created back in 2010 for a special exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Calamus edition of Walt Whitman’s celebrated Leaves of Grass. The title of the piece, “I will plant companionship thick as trees” is a quote from one of Whitman’s Calamus poems, which are remarkable for their frank celebration of same-sex love. The painting debuted at the special Calamus exhibition at the Hudson Guild (Manhattan) in spring 2010. This piece turned out to be the first of several Calamus inspired paintings I created that year. The painting was also included in my solo exhibition at Thoughtworks in Manhattan 2013.
I’m offering it for sale now through my online Square shop. If you are interested in owning this singular work of art and are in New York City, you’re more than welcome to visit me in Brooklyn to see the piece.
As I promised in Tuesday’s post, I have found the reference to ‘paysage planétaire,’ and this makes for the perfect opportunity to give you a more extended introduction to the artwork of Ferdinand Hodler, if you aren’t familiar with him.
As a sort of journalistic experiment, I’m going to follow the development of my recently started Paysage planétaire painting through several blog posts. This should be interesting, and maybe disastrous, since I don’t know how the painting is going to turn out. For me, creating is perhaps like giving birth to something — that something has a unique and independent existence. (Or, to put a humorous spin on it, sometimes I feel like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein — “It’s alive!”) Yes, I have a lot do with how it turns out, but ultimately the work takes on a life of its own. If things go well, it’s almost as if the painting paints itself. So far, I think it’s going well.
So recall where I left it the other day:
Essentially this what is classically referred to as the “cartoon” – just the outline. I also added a little texture and shading in blacks, whites and grays. Today I started filling in the underpainting:
First blue sky. Then I started adding some greens:
Essentially I’m taking a layered approach, or a semi-layered approach. I could have done it all alla prima, wet-on-wet, in one big session. My plan is to finish the underpainting in this fashion, and then do a big alla prima overpainting to finish it off. That will either complete the piece — or ruin it.
Here’s where I’ve left it tonight:
The underpainting is not quite done. I’ll finish that up soon. And I’m going to find the reference to “paysage planétaire” and report back here.
Oh, in case you’re wondering the reference for this piece is a photograph I took in the Adirondacks (upstate New York) a few summers ago. I’m not going to show that photo here since it is only a point of reference, an inspiration for the work, and not the work itself. I don’t want to invite comparisons between this inspiration and the painting, which is definitely it’s own thing. I’m not a fan of the concept of “representation” in art (at least as I currently understand it). But I’ll save that topic for another day.
I’m featuring a different painting each week. To start this series off, I present to you Magnolia, an oil painting I created in May 2014. This painting was inspired by photos I took of some lovely Magnolia trees in a city park in Manhattan. The color palette is very simple: white, black, green, pink and blue. The painting is 12 inches square and the composition is very much about the square (the square being a favorite motif of mine over the past several years).
This painting is for sale and is listed on my Etsy Shop! Check it out there!
I spent some time in the studio this afternoon, stretching canvas and beginning a new painting in my “paysages planétaires” series. A big inspiration for this series is the work of Swiss symbolist and proto-expressionist (my designation) Ferdinand Hodler. (Occasionally I reblog Hodler images on my tumblr.) I believe I came across the term “paysage planétaire” in some essays about his work. Alas, I can’t find the reference now.
Maybe it came to me in a dream.
In any case, this one is started. Each painting is an experiment. Who knows how it will turn out!
2014 has been a good year, although I pretty much felt like I was shot out of a cannon right from the beginning.
Even before I’ve started to put up the window dressing and what-not in this shiny new blog space, I want to give you an overview of the very exciting year that just flew by. So let’s take a look at the Year In Review, starting with:
January: we had a surprisingly long and cold winter in 2014, and it inspired several paintings, such as:
In February I joined the Facebook bandwagon, and started a Page for my Art.
Probably the biggest artistic commitment of 2014 was the Gowanus Swim Society, a new artists collective formed in Gowanus, Brooklyn. In March, we did a little neighborhood photoshoot (I was the photographer, except in this picture below, where I handed the camera off to the incomparable Fisk). Yes, it was a bit chilly that day, and yes, that shirt was none too flattering on me.
April brought quite a few things at once! Gowanus Swim Society (GSS) had it’s first group show, a pop-up at Trestle Gallery‘s project space. Then later in the month, I exhibited 10 paintings in a two-person show at Midoma in Manhattan. That carried through to Memorial Day.
Perhaps we were a wee bit intoxicated when this photo was taken.
June arrived, and the Swimmers scoped out Governors Island and began work on our big installation for the Governor’s Island Art Fair.
In July, I started work on my short series of circular paintings (see all the results here) for the GSS-Governors Island installation. I also showed my painting Magnolia at the Brooklyn Art Space/Trestle Gallery Summer Salon.
July also saw the sale of several paintings, including this one:
August was all about getting ready for Governor’s Island and everything came together in September! See all the photos of Gowanus Swim Society’s installation Submergedon my flickr.
In October I participated in my eighth Gowanus Open Studios. After that, what I really needed was a rest, but instead —
Welcome to my new blog, “Eye of the Artist | John Azelvandre Art Notes“. This blog succeeds and essentially replaces my old blogger blog “Hominy Grits,” which had served me so well for over 11 years. There were certain limitations with that blog and the best solution for me is a new start for a new year!
I want to make this new start and refocus and re-energize my blogging activities solely on the arts, and particularly on my own art. Additionally, I’ll be offering occasional observations on particular art happenings and events I come across, on artistic inspiration, and so forth.
This blog is a new work in progress! It’s pretty bare bones at the moment. Stay tuned for more interesting developments. Happy New Year!