Monday, June 30, 2008

old old studios new studios

I posted on flickr today some photos of my ggrandfather's classroom studio. He was Franz Moritz Goldstein and I wrote about him earlier in this blog under "past lives" or something close to that. We have one big photo of him teaching at the Girls' High School in San Francisco from about 1880 until his death in 1915. I had to scan the photos in three pieces so I could get it all. What a difference a century makes.

His studio is staged for the photo, obviously. There are plaster feet, hands, heads, and various objects and pieces of nature all used for drawing. One student is using a mall stick. The girls, of course are in long dresses, and seated in properly lady like poses. There is his big framed still life hanging on a rafter. It lives on in my mother's house along with 3 of his watercolors. I'm sure he had much more work, as he went to the Sierras and all about the city to paint with artist friends. But, as he had 7 children, the pieces were strewn about and we have lost communication with whatever descendants there may be. His daughter Matilda Valentina Goldstein was my precious grandmother. And she was born on Valentine's day.

I compare this with the drawing and painting classes I taught at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Many of my students figured it was the art way to dress way way way down so to speak. Actually, slovenly might be an appropriate word for a selected few.
We drew from life, we painted our feelings, we accepted that perfection in drawing was, hmmmm, passe. (Real attention to proper drawing is coming back in some colleges......but when Pollack came in, accuracy of form went out.)

So, to get back on track.....I included a photo, also in black and white of my first warehouse studio in about 1981, 99 years after my ggrandfather's photo. It's just interesting that's all.

To see these photos larger visit Flickr.com by clicking on my photos from flickr or by clicking on the flickr slideshow. And to this exhaustingly long post I've also added a photo from my first studio.....maybe about 1983. Enough, good bye.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

oil to acrylic to gouache to ink

The studio has welcomed me back with all its mess, a couple of dead tree roaches, lingering languishing canvases and no smell of turpentine. It has, at least for now, been vanquished. The lids are on the turp jars, the screw tops on the oil paint tubes, and.....the acrylic all laid out and ready to roll.

I worked for several days on a good size acrylic still life, stumbling with my scumbling all the way. I haven't painted with acrylic since the early days of the 80's. It doesn't have the flow of oil that I'm used to. So, I'm relearning the techniques of water media on canvas. It has slowed me down.

So, in the meantime, there is still drawing. And a happy return to gouache on paper. I do love gouache. Such rich color and the black is so deep and chalky. Love it. So, back to work.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

California fiesty mama

Just back home from California where the air is light, the flowers are many, and the landscape an inspiration. Here, in this humid place, ironically, there is no rain at present and things are dying on the vine.

With my 89 year old independent feisty optimistic and brimful of curiosity mother, papers were shuffled, supplies laid in, and time together spent. It is vital that the image of the person in younger times should still be in the mind.....the body does slow, and the mind, and in our society we do not pay the respect we should. My mother is in a state of life bliss. She is greedily taking in the news and social topics of the day. She is excited about the future, near and far. She often says: "this street will be so beautiful as soon as the trees fill in..." This is a woman who has not stopped learning. She embraces new ideas. She also sifts through her life and soul stuff to understand and learn about the now and past. A pretty fine example of homo sapiens.

I completed ten drawings while there, some of which I will be posting to Flickr. The black ink and white paper seem to be an excellent venue for new ideas just now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Peck, peck, cull.

Well, on looking and relooking I removed three of the self portraits. They were so much weaker than the rest. Cull, cull. Peck, peck. Life is an editing process.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Eye With A View: lost youth almost wise but scary

Eye With A View: lost youth almost wise but scary

lost youth almost wise but scary

I've been putting some old paintings up on Flickr.com. Many are pleasing to me and I'm happy to be seeing them again. But yesterday and today I put up ten self portraits that I painted in 1998 with the idea of the "me" in them being mostly harsh ancestors of a mostly fictional basis. These are small pieces, 10" x 8" oil on canvas and framed with wood painted red.

I've always liked these pieces, and originally there were twelve. They've been in two solo shows and usually were intriguing to people, I think, with two selling. But now, that they are up on Flickr and I am seeing them next to many beautiful "real" portraits of other people, or next to wonderful imaginary pieces of others, they look kind of appalling to me.

Not that I'm disowning them or anything......but they are mostly mean looking. There is only one that is smiling. A couple are dopey, but mostly they look like they would rip your tongue out or smash you in the nose. I was trying to be quite "tough" when I painted them under a very unflattering skylight. And I was trying to come to grips with my own advancing age and trying to own my wrinkles, sags and bags as it were. A child or young person looks sweet and so beautiful in repose, but someone older (or me anyway) can look SCARY.

So there it is. I'm actually ok with it. Maybe we need to see more of the unvarnished or un photo shopped and un masked older person. We revere very old age but that in between group needs to be accepted for the lost youth but wise almost very old people that we are.

swamp, 55" x 29"

in progress

flying fish, 55" x 29"

eye with a view

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I am living and painting in the little town of Houston. A far way from my San Francisco beginnings. I paint what I see of the human condition, be it human, animal or object. The glimmer of humor, pathos, and spirit in so much of what I see is the basis of what I paint.

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