A couple people thought it might prove interesting to display some of the random "pratice pieces" I've done over the many years, (Okay... It was my Mom. Lol.) So growing up, while on the outside I was a big dumb jock, I had the inner life of a want-to-be Geek - totally fascinated with science fiction, art, literature, and female boobies... Not necessarily in that particular order. Lol...
Imagine my exessive, unbridaled joy when I discovered I could draw and paint them with a fair level of accuracy. There were of course, shapes and textures which fell well-within and slightly beyond my early talent for pattern recognition, nude females being one of my preferred objects of practice and study, but my foray into STORIES, (the kind I now write for a living) began with the fantastical realms and worlds created by fantasy writers and artists like Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, and poets Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy) with 19th Century French illustrator/engraver Gustav Doré (Above panel is my white pencil on black version of a Doré engraving for Dante's seven layers of Hell.
Another partial Doré-like panel I created prompted me to gather select images from different engravings along with adding-in my own adolescent perversions to create an entirely new illustration which suggests a story very different from Dante's original epic poem. No doubt it would prompt both Dante and Doré to roll-over within their graves...
Not exactly the buxom beauties of Frazetta and Vallejo but the color pencil work on black continued to draw my eye. Early 80s.
Armed with my father's Playboy magazine photography, I began to work on paper of different colors, anything which might suggest a background or story relevant to the foreground colored pencil sketch. I began to see how interesting shadows from unseen outer objects could interact with and accentuate human skin and musculature, evidenced by the shadow across her lower belly from an unseen palm frond.
I cut this one off at a place normally reserved for the antiquated display of pubic hair, which has since entered an era of scarcity, a phemonemon I may never fully apprehend, but one which I continue to try and appreciate.
Political correctness doesn't always have to be painful for those of us who remember different standards from a bygone era.
Generally speaking, highlights are quite sharp while shadows blend gradually into the mid-tones, unless it's high-noon in which case most of the mid-tones can be lost.
Anyway, enough of that... Obviously, this kind of practice came readily for me as a gowing young boy.
Here I began to find beauty in the bright caustic shine of strong white specular lines, points of reflection and distorted refraction from droplets and pools of water.
I came to learn that oil, leather, silk, and chrome presented the kinds of sharp lines of light and dark which complex patterns translated fairly easily within my brain and mostly yielded high visual reward which today is generally referred to as "eye-candy"...
I discovered that "eye-candy" probably got it's name from the high-sheen, high-contrast characteristics which are necessary to make images of food and liquid appear especially edible or attractive to the eyes. Distortions and refractions from glass and water offer the same kind of fractal visual reward.
Pond or Lake water without waves must be done with slight color variations and appropriate dampening. Eyeline reflections can be tricky.
My Mom and Grandmother kept pushing me to paint more flowers. I did many because they tended to sell, but without some of the eye-candy I'd been used to chasing, I usually found such flora to be typical and uninteresting. Adding small creatures and rain droplet distortions became a staple of my paintings, but this one didn't work because I'd yet to intuitively seize upon the discovery of what I came to call Fractal Chaotic Randomness, which I believe is the secret to creating realistic trees, and plant life.
These objects here seem to almost define a mathematical series, 2+1=3, far too simplistic to be of much visual interest. But the realization of why this one failed brought me to the beginings of my theories on the significance of Fractals within Human visual esthetics.
Not sure what a depressed Circus clown has to do with a rainsoaked fall maple leaf but the inner fractal veins of the leaf refracting through water droplets made an amazing self-educational lesson on light distorion through water.
Occasionally I'd get an idea to tell a coherent visual story, but often I'd miss the mark because I relied too heavily on the eye-candy, which should never overwhelm or become a part of the story itself, as it does in this silly painting of an empty room full of paintings, covered by a sheet of glass which is alledgedly filtering out the room's natural color while simultaneously providing color to the plant and five painted canvasses beneath it...
Raised as a progressive Episcopalian/Christian, I began to slowly and painfully mature. I discovered the pursuit of philosophy, exhausting the genre of Existentialism, Daoism, Buddhism, Jainism, Hindusim, Zarathustraism, Frank Herbert's Muad'Dib-ism, Salvador Dali's Surrealism, and Shakespeare/Bacon's Humanism.
For any emerging young artist/storyteller, it's about taking notes from various different symphonies and attempting to blend them into your own unique original-like concerto.
Thus. have I always utilized philosophical themes and colorations within both my paintings and writings.
Fairly early in the game, I came to revere Buddhism (Dogmatic Atheism) as the most sensible and logical (to me) Wisdom tradition.
The studies of philosophy along with the brilliant scientific musings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell soon outdistanced my early Christian education. Heavily influenced by my comedic genius of an Uncle, I soon fell into full blown hardcore Atheism over the next 20 or so years.
But my fascination with capturing images related to far Eastern traditions, culture, and religion continued to thematically inspire my artistic work as I began to challenge my own ability to reflect realistic clothing, silks, and gauzy translucent fabrics. I was finally learning the art of suggesting detail with only thin, small splashes of light, color, or well formed lines - the way the late French Impressionist painter Cézanne taught Earnest Hemingway to write, (See Iceburg Theory)
The absence of light and shadow can inform space and invisible detail as readily as vivid full light, most often lending to mood or ambient stillness.
SEE the mother carrying her child down the church nave towards the foyered entrance? I bet you have a good idea of the mother's general appearance, though I most certainly never actually painted anything more than the upper 2 inches of her back and left shoulder.
Ignore the later addition of the knight in full armor driving his 70s car the opposite direction up the right side of the nave. It was "practice" and it appealed to my Monty Pythonesque sense of obscurity and Dali-like surrealism.
It wasn't the only time I flirted with my growing sense of confidence and power to destroy a piece through the rebellious introduction of misplaced objects and purposeful silliness. Something I also frequently now do in my writing, though that is much easier to erase.
How many musicians in this white oil on black stagelit cut-away of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with instruments and proximity to suggest a familiar Quintette ensemble? 3 in actual appearance?
Here too, my penchant for deliberate obscurity rears it's destructive head when one considers exactly how a flutist, 2 violins, a cello, and oversized Cymbals might sound together in a small, intimate classical ensemble...
Props to myself for venturing an early 1988 vision of pre-political LGBTQ sensitivities, but still Pythonesque in its subtle, English class concious humor... "More cowbell, anyone?" asked Mozart. Lol...
I always loved the way chrome reflection and white on black jumps out at you when the lines are right during the initial creative process so this is one of the many practice sketches which became so only in its failure to maintain a thread of emotional connection to my original message or story.
Honestly, I can't even truly remember what I intended with this one, but with the ridiculous juxtaposition of the two seperate elements, I can only imagine that I utterly abandoned my original intent as immature and unworthy of the technically sound construction of its constituent parts.
Detailed pattern recognition allows me to see and recreate moderately impressive images, sentences, and histories, but without the investment of true emotional connection, the piece can never become anything more than technical exercize, as most of these practice paintings ultimately prove.
Visually interesting, as properly randomized fractals begin to appear in the bark, grape clusters, leaf edges and structural leaf veins, but although the colors are interesting and nicely contrasted, where is the story sense of ripening grapevines partially covered by giant autumn maple leaves? Lol...
Sometimes, too much story and/or eye-candy can lead to disaster, evidenced in this scifi mishmash meant to depict an epic space battle complete with asteroid cities and fracturing alternate dimensions... Yeah right. Lol...
Decent elements, trees, and fractal foliage, but the relative lack of dynamics paints a rather dull less than interesting story, Not much of an emotional connection.
I thought of entitling it something like, "If a horse whinnys alone inside a redwood forrest, can anybody hear it? Then why would they want to see it?" Lol...
Almost there, but the position and perspective on the castnet boat fisherman is just slightly off, giving it a feeling of being forced, in my opinion.