Fear of failure despite a new found confidence

Revisiting the past is a melancholy affair. A journey taken not lightly for it can be filled with a gambit of emotions, as I look over a number of photographs taken in 2005. Images reflecting a time when I hiked the hills behind our house. Exploring the early morning light as it filtered through the California oak trees, gracing the spring growth with its pale amber light, these photographs marked a time in my life that will not be repeated soon, since the focus has shifted to painting.

The last several days I have meant to write and update the progress of the Abstract Realism painting ‘Industrial Wall — Flint Ink’, considering significant progress had been made, not only with version two, featured earlier this month on this blog, but version one was completed this last Sunday.

Both versions are based on the same photograph with key differences between the two. I had planned early on the idea of two versions, considering both paintings were going to be an experiment in regards to the combinations of materials used, one painting (version #1) will be offered for sale and version two with the ‘combine’ materials would be part of the van Dyck Trust collection.

So this weekend the final touches, an oil-based glaze with Liquin was applied over the entire canvas, with a second coat within in the hour, only over portions of the canvas so that there would be the illusion of different light sources.

A third coat using the same percentages of Liquin to Manganese Blue Nova oil paint was once again applied to only portions of the canvas in order to strengthen specific areas and the following day under cool early morning light the decision was made that this painting was finished. Now I am faced with the decision if this glaze application should also be added to the other canvas, especially since I had planned it in the first place.

The decision came quickly when I accidentally came across the finished painting in perfect light and saw that the intent was captured after all. So once I have photographed version two in its present stage, I can move ahead and bring another painting to completion.

Though I have found success with one painting, there is still the lingering fear of failure until the other painting has the same outcome and when I manage to have a satisfactory result, I will have learned from the process but fear of failure remains strong despite my newfound confidence.

As we bring another month to a close like a chapter in a book, we begin anew another, like the path before us, one often traveled but never the same twice, I will seek inspiration in familiar places, all the while discovering new ones.


End of an era

Today Eastman Kodak Co. announced that they will no longer offer Kodachrome film or it’s processing after a seventy-four year run as one of the best colour films ever invented.

According to news reports, Kodachrome amounted to no more than a fraction of one percent of Kodak still-film sales and only one lab in the US had offered it processing.

The unopened film box, including the unused roll of 35mm film, I have had since 1972 and in 1975 Kodak introduced Ektachrome Professional and from that point on, Kodrachrome started to decline in usage.

Now the box and cartridge are displayed among other ephemera on my bookshelf.

Three weeks earlier, one of the best Ektachrome labs on the west coast liquidated their equipment, closing their doors like so many other film processing labs in the Bay Area.


A struggle to be heard

Image from CNN website

On the ninth of June I had written a draft about what I thought was going to occur in Iran on Election Day, as my children are half Persian and half German, but in the end I decided to keep my feelings to myself. Yet with what has been happening this past week and a half, have kept me occupied watching the news like many others here in the US and abroad.

Unfortunately what I feared has occurred and blood has spilled onto the streets and now the ruling religious leaders have drawn a line in the sand, but change, potential change cannot come about with people filling the streets and demonstrating because those in control will not allow it. Therefore we will see more violence and killings in the days to come, as a nation struggles for a new direction.

Image from CNN website

In the meantime I am disappointed by the American news media coverage, even though they monitored Iranian state run television, they have failed to share what is being reported by Alzagira TV, and other Middle Eastern news services as to the crises in Iran. On the other hand I am very pleased that we are receiving almost endless news reports about Iran, along with a good dosage of contemporary Iranian history, giving the American public a better understand about a country many hardly know or even understand.

For now one can only hope that the cracks continue to widen and before too long the current political structure crumbles and is being replaced with something more moderate and contemporary as its citizens can stop suffering, while our two nations establish better relations.


The industrial wall - part one

Before my semester of Modern and Contemporary Art History class came to an end at Diablo Valley College, Professor Michael Lawrence, our instructor had ask me a month earlier if I wanted to give a presentation regarding my art. I felt this would be a good first run considering a few months later I am scheduled to give a presentation to the members and guests of the East Bay Artists Guild.
Deciding to focus on photography, specifically my abstract images and how I go about seeking my subject matter.

Back home I combed through some twenty-five thousand images, when I came across one taken at an industrial site that had shut down and at that time the building underwent an environmental cleanup.

Having entered through the back entrance unseen, I had managed to set up my tripod, capture a dozen or so images inside before being discovered and having to leave the premises. Now four years later, one of these images from the Flint Ink plant I selected for the lecture captured my imagination; especially since just a week earlier I coined the term Abstract Realism in regards to my work.

Impulse got the better of me and during the preparations for the class presentation I just had to start the painting by giving it first several applications of gesso, this was followed with three layers of silver foil and a coat of sealer.

Several weeks would pass before any progress on the painting would continue as I had to work out numerous technical challenges, especially as I was entering new unexplored territories as to the materials I had not used previously, especially when one considers my goal was to recreate a photograph onto a 36 x 48 inch (91.44 x 121.92 cm) canvas.

Though I had previously used found objects or textured materials in a painting, I was now embarking on using commercially produced acrylic texture materials to visually establish the richness that took years to build up through accident or on purpose.

After lengthy contemplation the decisive moment arrived or the painting would remain unfinished and so the first layers of texture was applied to the canvas. Since then the painting has progressed through numerous changes but remains still unfinished, requiring a final coat or two of a glaze using oil paint mixed with Liquin to give the illusion of a light source striking the industrial wall.

Each step undertaken was a calculated experiment, though still a risk and any wrong move would alter the painting into something other than intended and at worst ruin what each step has achieved.

Fear is an element we all face in varying degrees and in the creation of art it can be very destructive, keeping us from not only achieving our potential but also from producing a work of significant importance in the growth as artist. Yet fear can also be a positive thing, by keeping any over confidence in check, since too much self-confidence can be just as destructive as fear.

With the painting a little more than half completed I tried out the shipping label, loosely nudging it between canvas and the piece of wood in order to see how it looked.

When I originally discovered the label I just fell in love with its imperfect quality and since the painting needed some bright snappy colour and a focal point to draw attention to the hand written notes still to be added.

This painting has taken six weeks to get to were it is at now and it might take another fourteen days before this canvas can be considered a finished painting.

To be continued . . .


All grown up

It is something very special and a little scary in a parent’s life when a child grows up, for it feels as if it was just yesterday my wife and I brought home our second child all wrapped up in a bundle of blankets.

Last Thursday our daughter Ariana graduated with honours from Pinole Valley High, ending one incredible four-year adventure.

Over the next several weeks I am sure she will do the most of relaxation, seeing her friends before summer comes to an end and it is time for everyone to disburse into all directions. For she too will be moving on, heading off to the University of Santa Cruz and begin a new adventure in her life.

Though I am very proud of her and what she has done and will accomplish, it is already difficult having to let go, especially because I love her so very much.


A day like no other

In two days my daughter will graduate from high school and before this month is out, I too shall be celebrating with the closing and opening of another decade in my life.

No longer do I count the years individually like pages in a book, rather I am looking at the each decade as a chapter, some which are leaner than others, while a few appear rich and full, able to stand on their own. Still I cannot help but feel there are not enough hours with which to fulfill what a creative heart desires to achieve.

Yesterday was such a day in which, one can say I ended up burning the candles at both ends until 3:40 in the morning before turning off the computers, only to rise less than five hours later and start all over.

Time management becomes more problematic even with today’s technology at our disposal, connecting on multiple levels, yet we have the ability to make choices. Some decisions are made for us because the medium we once used has changed and not adopting to current methods is like having dial-up and not DSL or cable.

The purpose of Four Seasons in a Life is my way of adapting to the universe outside of my world and sharing with you my creative processes and challenges, along with a good dosage of courage and optimism during these difficult economic times, for it is important not to lose sight of ones aspirations and dreams.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that small wonders are to be had, free for the taking, if we simple remain alert and our heart open to receive them. Even right now in a moment of internal silence, sitting at the kitchen table with my morning cup of tea, the doors, and windows open to air the house, I hear an orchestra of birds singing away, even under an overcast sky, as a small gust of wind moves a wind chime to tune.

My moment of serenity lasts only for a few minutes, but enough to last the day.