Sunday, January 31, 2010

Synecdoche, New York


A few months ago, I was spending a lot of time researching movement paintings. I didn't know if such things existed, but when I googled the term, one of Alex Kanevsky's paintings showed up.
I had never seen his work, but was intensely drawn to a lot of it (above).
I did some more research on him, and found out that some of his paintings were used in a very odd film called "Synecdoche New York".

For any of you that liked "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Being John Malcovich" and any Peter Greenaway film, this film is for you. Bizarrely visual and somewhat twisted in plot, there is symbolism throughout the whole two hours. I had not heard much about this movie when it had come out..... just like most off-beat films. Besides quirks like Hoffman's mistress' house being in continuous flames or the Kanevsky miniatures in Berlin, this film has a lot of meaning. I think I will probably have to watch it at least five times to even begin to unwrap some of its subtleties.
However... beware to those who don't like surrealist cinema or dialogue-laden scripts.... Synecdoche New York is not for the faint of heart, and certainly a departure from any main-steam film you might see in theaters today.
Not to be cynical:)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Blog?

So, what gives? Why do people blog? You send out a post into that huge blogisphere, only to hear silence in return.
One of the quotes I have been thinking of (and apparently many other people, since it can be found on bumper stickers and coasters) is "The world is run by the people who show up".

So, I'm showing up in this world of the ever-complicated blog.
Not that I'm looking to run it or anything....

I had a blog for a little over a year. I put it down to rest on my 29th birthday. It was a bit personal. I've decided since then that blogs can be a good thing... a place for thoughts and, hopefully, information sharing.
This blog is going to be a lot more about the things I am learning, and sharing.

So here goes.

I teach as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Last semester I taught figure painting (many people thought I said finger painting), and this semester I teach Drawing II. I have a great class.
One of the things I am having to do is recall my freshman year at the Rhode Island School of Design. This is a little bit of a stretch for me, since most of my artistic training is really traditional. I am having to read a lot of drawing books at the moment, and this is proving to be better for me than probably the students.
Scale is something that has been the focus of most of our critiques, besides the obvious mark-making, value and proportion conversations. Scale is definitely another aspect to painting and drawing that, in my humble opinion, classically-trained artists take for granted.
Even seeing some of the students work double as big got me thinking.
I'm starting a painting that is 7 feet by 5 feet, as practice for a larger canvas of 8 feet by 8 feet. On the flip side, I've been accepted by a large portrait brokerage house to sell 8 inch by 10 inch portrait oil sketches. Both scales have their own set of problems.
For one thing, stretching a large canvas is more time-consuming, and you have to get pretty creative in your methods. Mine is actually pinned to my studio walls, instead of stretched on stretcher bars.
Besides the materials, scale also makes a difference in portraying the characteristic of what you are painting. The painting I hope to paint in 8ft x 8ft can only be painted in this size. Why? It is about grandiose gestures of movement. It is of a modern dancer. I am using a series of transparencies to show her movements, and the opaque parts of her are where she moves very little. These huge gestures would look HORRIBLY confined if she was any less than life-size (I tried painting her on a 5 ft canvas, and the entire idea was lost).
As a difference, the small oil portraits I am painting are also very tied to their scale. Being so small, I wanted people to have to move closer to the piece. They are intimate, a quality I enjoy in portraiture.
Something to think about. If you have never worked REALLY big, it is something to consider, given the right piece. If you have a tendency to be overly-dramatic, very small pieces can be quite soothing.
Ok, this is probably common knowledge for a lot of you, but for me it is somewhat new.