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And what changed?

I like painting from different perspectives, each one more abstract than the last.

These three are titled “Overhang”, watercolours by MJ Chamie

First, I draw or paint a scene in some detail, doing pencil sketches, or painting while working with values, shadow, color, choice of detail.  At some point, I stop.

Then I may do a second painting using pens or brushes and focus on the overarching theme, letting imagination do the rest.  

Finally, I shape these ideas into a single thought and paint something that is closer to a symbol, like a hieroglyphic.

This is my usual approach to art, and it feels like I am having a discussion with the painting while doing so.  If I ever come back to a place that I have painted, it feels so familiar and welcoming to be back.

In the examples below,  fascinated by the arches of trees over the walkways of South East Portland,  I walked through a place that I chose to paint.   At this location, it felt as though the trees were communicating, whispering, as they arched over the walkway.  

It is one thing to capture the detail, and another to capture the feeling.  

IMG_6901

Photo taken by MJChamie.

Dark overhang of trees in South East Portland, Watercolor by MJChamie.

This thought resulted in a Haiku poem and watercolor that I painted. It says,  “Silence abounds here. I feel its cover and stop. It whispers with me.”

Setting the tone and level of detail in any painting is part technique and part personal judgement. I like the struggle of figuring this out, while knowing it is clear that there is no exact right or wrong to this.

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I like the drips and drabs that occur on the sides of paintings, before they are cleaned up and framed.  The side patterns suggest the artists’ level of enthusiasm.  They also show the timing of the oil’s placement on the canvas through the layers of paint left dripping over the sides.  For example, the artist may have done the paint mixing on the canvas itself using various brushes and strokes, rather than through mixing oils beforehand and placing the color on to the canvas.  These differences would be more clearly seen on the unfinished sides.

The sides of canvases may be more influenced by gravity rather than brush strokes and are essentially happy accidents of the artist, capriciously highlighting the color palette.  The drips and drabs of  along the sides may also complement that painting itself, acting as a frame.

Below is a mixed media painting on canvas on display at the New York Historical Society. When I saw this painting by Karen Schwartz, I stopped to appreciate her work, and then spent additional time looking at the sides, thinking about her wonderful approach to painting this picture of Eleanor Roosevelt.

I particularly like the way the dripping sides of the canvas have framed the oil painting and am glad that the artist did not cover it, or paint over these designs, but rather considered it part of the painting itself.

What do you think?

Source of painting: https://www.nyhistory.org

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Life Change

Trivial moments spiral,

arriving nonsensically,

angst driven.

What is the catch, the trigger

turning sadness to joy and laughter?

Maybe a long, satisfying walk,

vigorous bike ride,

or a child speaking or a butterfly slipping by.

Nothing much, but awareness.

Poem and sketches by MChamie

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A Promise to Myself

Quiet dawn of morning 
pierced by computer clicks, 
I drink first cup of coffee,

all hope of using brain ruined
seeing “stupid” and “greatest” 
on my screen, 
creative thought pierced, 
stabbed by stupid and greatest words,
ideas trumped, thoughts killed.
Until morning when free spirit
brings fresh words in abundance.
tomorrow, when computer closed,
I am not yet crushed by internet chatter from
bitter tweets of hatred and blame and name calling.

Poem and sketch by MJC

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Abstract Thought

I don’t know what this is.
But it seems right to me.
It expresses my inner thoughts, I guess.
But since I don’t know what it is,
The meaning of it is elusive.
It seems to set a direction, then moves on.
Much like my life.
Is that what it is?
Each twist and turn leaves a larger decision, a
footprint of sorts.

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Beach Junk for Art

Below is a water color painting I completed on a piece of old plastic found on the beach.
An artist friend asked me to help her find a piece of driftwood she needed for a commissioned art piece she was trying to complete.  She had searched several beaches near her house and couldn’t find the correct size, and asked for help.  

On our beach, I doggedly searched for the piece of driftwood with her specifications and found only some small pieces of wood, along with old shoes, pieces of plastic, an unhinged toilet seat, a few seashells, as well as plenty of seaweed and lots of old, jangled, plastic rope. 

Are you surprised by my description of what I found on the beach?  You shouldn’t be, as most ocean beaches are cluttered with junk.   Much of it is plastic.  

When I told my friend that I couldn’t find anything she wanted, she replied,  “Well, we should just switch to painting on plastic.  There sure is plenty of that laying around.”   

A few days later, while again scrounging around on the beach, I found a rather large piece of blue, eroded, plastic that used to be part of a 25 gallon container.  It was an interesting shape, so i took it home then scrubbed it up and left it outside to dry in the warm sun of our Island of the Abacos.  

Then I painted the plastic, first designing the structure with gesso, a kind of acrylic base, then following up with watercolors.  The roughened and worn plastic surface moved the water colors slowly around in interesting ways. Where the plastic was still smooth, the paint moved about quickly and then mingled and mixed with other colors.  

As I shifted the brush size and character, I started to get some pleasant varied patterns on the old plastic.  

Pretty soon, I was lost in the painting and having a great time.  

The end result has a sort of shiny, porcelain look to it.  

I like finding junk to paint on.  And I sure like the price of the canvas.  

Plus, now there is one less piece of plastic garbage on the beach.

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What Actually Happened?

Are found truths eliminated lies?
– proved wrong before truth pursued?
Is time not wasted while examining lies?
Is proving a lie truth 
or is truth hiding elsewhere?

Are lies scientific evidence when found false, like proving the null hypothesis?
Are lies facts when truth is obfuscated?  
Are lies kind when they are white?  
Are lies easier to live when when they bely the meaning of facts?
Are lies truer when falsified?
What about pathological lying?  
What are we going to do about that?

Sketch and poem by MJC

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