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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


tree dreaming

Monday morning I ordered 9 prestretched canvases from a place in Miami called RexArt after googling art supplies. I didn't feel like going to different websites and comparing prices spending half a day looking to see if I can save 50c if I find the right place. Too boring. RexArt looked good, they had what I wanted, better than what I wanted. They arrived today by FedEx 2 days later. I was thinking I'd get to painting something when they arrived. Early afternoon here they were, 3 boxes of 3 different sizes, sizes I've found I like. Not too big. Not too little. The size of a good painting experience. I'd imagined Friday or next week some time.

It's been a few years since I've painted. Didn't feel like it when staying with Jr. I preferred to read in my quiet time. It stinks up the house. At home I don't mind. I expect the cats won't care for it at first, but after awhile it will be the scent of home, and probably how I'll smell everywhere I go. I took one of the 16x20s out of the box and put the boxes away. I thought I needed to empty out the junk room for a place to paint, but I like it here in the living room. I find I paint better when I live with what I'm painting. When I'm not working on it, I'm looking at it. It sits perched on the portable easel by the entertainment center. I sit and study it. That's what I want to do.

Have been wanting to paint a portrait of a fiddler. Found a pencil that makes good strong lines, sharpened it with pocket knife and set about sketching the figure in, from waist up. These particular canvases have the canvas stretched tight over the frames and stapled on the back. Meaning I can continue the painting over the edges. Meaning no need for a frame. Frames have become too expensive to buy. I've always made my own, but I'd rather have no frame. No effort, no expense. No problem. I like the least frame anyway, just a narrow line of black is ideal for what I like. No frame is even better. I sketched him in with elbow going over the edge and the fingers of the hand holding the bow go over the edge and the end of the fiddle with the pegs goes over the edge. Just for fun.

Every time I take a break from painting, when I start up again it is entirely different from what went before. The last period was mountain musicians painted on used wood. Now I want to do mountain musicians on canvas. I've got not many years ahead and I have to do something besides sit and stare out the window all day. I can make portrait likenesses, so I might as well. I want to honor the musicians of mountain music, focus in our county. I paint pictures of several of them and they will be remembered at least by the people that live with the paintings and everyone they know. I'm believing that's what I want to do with the rest of my life, paint mountain musicians. I also want to price them so they don't have to leave this county. I want people in this county to buy them. I want them to stay at home. I wouldn't have anything against some being out and about, which is inevitable, but as a rule of thumb, I'd like them here where they belong.

I like the canvas where I can live with it and see it all the time. Long ago I learned that the hours spent sitting looking at something I'm working on are every bit as essential as the hours of applying paint. I see more deeply into what I'm doing when I look at it a lot. Adjust this. Reshape that. Wipe this out and do it again, keep at it until every detail is finished. I feel like a painting is finished when nothing I do can improve it and anything I do would diminish it.

Right away when I got the canvas and pencil ready, I sketched out the figure with the pencil. Wrong size. Wiped it off with turpentine on a rag and started over. It's sketched in pretty good now. Still much to do. I like living with it instead of having it in another room or another building, anyplace else. By the time it's done I want you to be able to hear the fiddle when you look at it. Right now it doesn't feel like music. Doesn't have any rhythm in it. This is why I want to live with it, to consider questions like this as I study it. What can I do to make it feel like music? This question will occupy my mind all the way through.

I'm leaving the old rustic look of painting on the wood, which I loved doing. At the beginning I had an abundance of wood. Then it starts getting hard to find. I still have some wood to paint on, but I want to do the canvases. I'm not going to go for the rustic look. The musician himself/herself will take care of that. I want to play with some rich colors. I want to apply to painting what I've learned of mountain music. Feeling is #1. And doing it for the love of doing it. Like a mountain musician has no urge for Nashville, I'll be painting with no urge for selling anything outside this county.

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